Gary A. Johnson, Founder & Publisher – Black Men In America.com
Updated August 29, 2016 (Originally posted on November 5, 2010).
How black people spend their money has been a hotly debated topic not only on this site, but in our office, at social events and in beauty and barber shops across America. As we look at the year in review, this article has been the most read and commented article for 5 years running. Once I learned that this was the most popular and discussed article on the website, I decided to do some research and share this information with others. The first question that I wanted an answer to was: How long does money stay in the community?
A dollar circulates:
6 hours in the Black community
17 days in the white community
20 days in the Jewish community
30 days in the Asian community
According Tingba Muhammad of the Nation of Islam Research Organization (NOIRG) wasteful black spending is rooted in slavery. Earlier this year, Minister Louis Farrakhan gave speech on the root of black spending behaviors and what black people need to do to correct some of these bad habits. According to the research 42 million Blacks have a spending power amounting to $1.1 trillion, which gives each man, woman, and child an annual spending power of $26,200 dollars. Black spend their money overwhelmingly with white businesses on the following products and services.
tobacco $3.3 billion
whiskey, wine, and beer $3 billion
non-alcoholic $2.8 billion
leisure time spending $3.1 billion
toys, games, and pets $3.5 billion
telephone services $18.6 billion
gifts $10 billion
charitable contributions $17.3 billion
healthcare $23.6 billion
The NOIRG theorizes that when most Blacks emerged from slavery, it frightened the hell out of white people. They knew that money and knowledge in Black hands meant that Blacks would have the power to determine their own destiny apart from white domination and control. The first impulse Blacks had after slavery was to get as far away from whites as possible. They even set up over 60 all-Black towns, in which they managed free of white authority. This trend had to be stopped because with Black independence came the total loss of the labor that whites totally depended on. This created a tremendous amount of oppression. Blacks responded to this oppression by becoming fast spenders.
So, today, Blacks don’t trust banks, or the courts—Blacks “trust” only that which they can hold in their hands at that very moment. As destructive as that behavior is to Black progress is exactly how profitable that behavior is to whites—who will do anything to keep Blacks on that thinking track.
I decided to post this article as a recent and clear example of how, in this case, this black person spends his money. Why the need to flaunt your money? We’re not in the psychology field, so we won’t even venture to speculate.
A new report from Nielsen, “The Increasingly Affluent, Educated and Diverse,” explores the “untold story” of African-American consumers, particularly Black households earning $75,000 or more per year. According to the report, Black people in this segment are growing faster in size and influence than whites in all income groups above $60,000. And as African-American incomes increase, their spending surpasses that of the total population in areas such as insurance policies, pensions and retirement savings.
According to Nielsen, “African-American households spend more on basic food ingredients and beverages and tend to value the food preparation process, spending more time than average preparing meals. Other popular buying categories include fragrances, personal health and beauty products, as well as family planning, household care and cleaning products.”
The authors of this report emphasize that as the social and cultural clout of the Black consumer is on the ascendancy, it is incumbent upon advertisers and marketers of consumer brands to develop a long-tern game with the Black community.
As TheAtlantic notes, Black buying power is expected to reach $1.2 trillion this year, and $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth.
LetsBuyBlack365 is a national grassroots movement that utilizes the online community and local networking to harness Black buying power, with a goal to create jobs and resources to help Black people.
A few years ago we updated our original post with some information from an article written in September 2013, by Stacy M. Brown posted on the Washington Informer.com website titled, “Big Spenders, Small Investors: Blacks Have Little to Show for Hard-Earned Dollars.” In that article, Ms. Brown writes, “If black America counted as an independent country, its wealth would rank 11th in the world. However, African Americans continue to squander their vast spending power, relegating blacks to economic slavery instead of financial freedom, according to several consumer reports detailing the use of cash in the black community.”
We also incorporated 2014 data from the Nielsen Company. If history is any indication of future behavior, this updated article will be hotly debated in 2016. Let’s hope that we can make some progress in this area and close the wealth gap.
Compared to all consumers, African Americans spend 30 percent more of their total income — even though we make $20,000 less than the average household. A whopping 87 percent of annual retail spending consists of Black consumers! But where does our money go? Hudson Valley Press Onlinegives us the scoop via an article from Nielsen’s SVP of public affairs and government relations, Cheryl Pearson-McNeil.
When it comes to shopping at the mall, we make eight more annual trips than any other group pulling in an average of 154 visits. Blacks also patronize dollar stores the most; we make seven more trips than the average group making a total of 20 trips. Lastly, Black Americans made more visits to convenience/gas stores by a small margin: making a total of 15 annual visits.
However, African American trips to grocery stores and warehouse clubs (like Costco) are a bit more scarce. “Less time is spent at grocery stores, with three fewer trips. The exception to grocery store shopping, though, is with Blacks who earn upwards of $100K annually. We also make three fewer trips to warehouse stores and two fewer trips to mass merchandisers than the Total Market. However, more upper-income Blacks (73%) shop at warehouse clubs than non-Blacks annually,” Pearson-McNeil said.
It could be that the lack of grocery stores and other healthy establishments in Black neighborhoods that contribute to this trend. This is why it’s not at all surprising that African-Americans frequent McDonald’s and Burger King more than other U.S. household.
What you probably won’t see in our carts are diary products such as milk and yogurt. “[T]his could be because many of us are lactose-intolerant,” Pearson-McNeil adds.
But probably the largest retail disparity between African Americans and other groups rests in the hair and beauty industry. We spend about nine times more on hair care and beauty products in comparison to other demographics. “In fact, 46% of Black households shop at Beauty Supply Stores and have an average annual total spend of $94 on products at these stores,” Pearson-McNeil says.
All the aforementioned figures were pulled from Resilient, Receptive, and Relevant: The African-American Consumer 2013 Report. With African Americans approaching $1 trillion buying power, one must wonder why aren’t marketers paying more attention to Black consumer trends.
** The average Black household contains 2.57 persons. In addition, Black households averaged 1.25 owned vehicles. Most of these households were renters, living in apartments or flats.8 Their dwellings averaged 5.45 rooms (including finished living areas and excluding all baths) and 1.49 bathrooms. Black households’ annual expenditures averaged $36,149, which was 79.8 percent of their average income before taxes. The amount spent on housing ($13,530) consumed the biggest portion of annual expenditures, accounting for more than one-third of the total. This was followed by transportation ($5,946) and food ($5,825). The remaining expenditures made up roughly 30 percent of total spending: personal insurance and pensions, healthcare, entertainment, cash contributions, apparel, and education, in addition to personal care, tobacco, alcohol, reading, and miscellaneous expenditures.
Black Americans are just 13 percent of the U.S. population, and yet, we’re on trend to have a buying power of $1.4 trillion by 2019. A new Nielsen study hints that marketers may want to start developing a better consumer-producer relationship with African Americans if they want to make big bucks.
Titled “The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers,” the report finds that the Black American sweet spot, in terms of buying power, lies in ethnic hair and beauty aids (surprise, surprise). African-American dollars make up a whopping 85.8 percent of the industry.
**Here are highlights of the spending patterns of low-income versus high-income Black households:
On average, low-income Black households spent $16,627 in total annual expenditures, compared with high-income Black households who spent approximately $50,000 more.
Housing was the biggest expenditure for both types of households. For the high-income Black households, housing was 34.2 percent of the total annual expenditure. For the low-income Black households, it was nearly half of the total annual expenditure, at 45.5 percent.
Food was another large spending category for both types of households. However, it made up only 12.7 percent of total expenditures for high-income Black households, compared with 23.5 percent for low-income Black households.
Transportation and personal insurance and pensions made up only 11.5 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively, of total expenditure for the low-income Black households. However, for the high-income Black households, these shares were 17.1 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.
Cash contributions, such as charitable donations, was a smaller expenditure category in which low and high-income Black households differed. Cash contributions were 2.1 percent for the low-income Black households and 4.6 percent for the high-income Black households.
Among the remaining expenditure categories, alcoholic beverages, apparel and services, healthcare, entertainment, personal care, reading, education, and miscellaneous expenditures, low-income and high-income Black households had similar expenditure shares.
Tobacco and smoking supplies was the only expenditure category in which low-income Black households spent both a higher share and a higher actual dollar outlay than their high-income counterparts. For low-income Black households, tobacco and smoking supplies was 1.5 percent ($248) of their total expenditure but made up only 0.3 percent ($218) of total expenditure for high-income Black households.13
Blacks are more aggressive consumers of media and they shop more frequently.
Blacks watch more television (37%), make more shopping trips (eight), purchase more ethnic beauty and grooming products (nine times more), read more financial magazines (28%) and spend more than twice the time at personal hosted websites than any other group.
Blacks make an average of 156 shopping trips per year, compared with 146 for the total market. Favoring smaller retail outlets, blacks shop more frequently at drug stores, convenience stores, and Dollar stores.
Beauty supply stores are also popular within the black community, as they typically carry an abundance of ethnic hair and beauty aids reside that cater specifically to the unique needs of black hair textures.
While the numbers indicate that Black folks are an important part of the buying public, companies spend just three-percent (3%) of their advertising budgets marketing to black consumers. According to Cheryl Pearson McNeil, a Vice President at Nielsen, “The Black population is young, hip and highly influential. We are growing 64 percent faster than the general market,” she explains.
However, Noel King, a reporter for NPR’s Marketplace, cautions companies against trying to reach Black consumers without knowing our needs. “If you want to market to those groups, then you should know what particular group buys your stuff,” says King. “Blacks tend to spend more on electronics, utilities, groceries, footwear. They spend a lot less on new cars, alcohol, entertainment, health care, and pensions.”
Despite our collective buying power, statistical data reflects that much of that money is spent outside of the Black community and not with Black-owned businesses.
Compare these numbers about “dollar circulation” reported by the NAACP:
“Currently, a dollar circulates in Asian communities for a month, in Jewish communities approximately 20 days and white communities 17 days. How long does a dollar circulate in the Black community? 6 hours! Black American buying power is at 1.1 Trillion; and yet only 2 cents of every dollar blacks spend in this country goes to black owned businesses.”
If the “dollar circulation” data does not get your attention, consider the following information from an article written by financial expert Ryan Mack:
“About a quarter of all Hispanic (24 percent) and black (24 percent) households in 2009 had no assets other than a vehicle, compared with just 6 percent of white households. These percentages are little changed from 2005.” (Pew Research)
“The median amount Black households reported saving on a monthly basis is $189, compared to $367 among White households…. [This is] the first time in a decade that African-American households have reported saving less than $200 per month.” (Ariel Investments 2010 Black Investor Survey)
“Blacks on the average are six times more likely than Whites to buy a Mercedes, and the average income of a Black who buys a Jaguar is about one-third less than that of a White purchaser of the luxury vehicle.” Earl Graves, Black Enterprise Magazine
Although Blacks make up 13-percent of the U.S. population, just seven-percent (7%) of small business are owned by Blacks. Access to capital, clientele, and other resources hinder many Black folks from starting business, despite a long history of entrepreneurship.
African Americans consistently outpace the total market population in overall growth, smart phone ownership, television viewing and annual shopping trips according to the new study, “Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African-American Consumer 2013 Report,” a collaborative effort by the Nielsen Company in New York and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), located in Northwest Washington, D.C.
Black buying power continues to increase, rising from its current $1.1 trillion level to a forecasted $1.3 trillion by 2017.
Despite the strong economic outlook, Blacks continue to spend most of their money outside of the Black community and, according to Nielsen and NNPA, advertisers have repeatedly slighted the black media, spending only three percent, or $2.24 billion, of the $75 billion spent with all media last year.
Each year, Blacks spend more than $47 billion on Lincoln automobiles, $3.7 billion on alcohol, $2.5 billion on Toyotas, $2 billion on athletic shoes, and $600 million each year on McDonald’s and other fast foods, according to Target Market News Inc., a Chicago-based marketing research group.
Blacks also spend wildly to keep up their appearances. The black hair care and cosmetics industry counts as a $9 billion a year business, but while African Americans are spending the most, they are profiting the least, said officials from the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association (BOBSA) in Palo Alto, Calif. Beauty product lines designed for African Americans were once 100 percent owned and operated by blacks, today other ethnic groups control more than 70 percent of the market.
The current homeownership rate reveals that 73.5 percent of whites own homes while approximately 43.9 percent of Blacks are homeowners, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies State of the Nation report for 2013.
Sixty percent of Blacks have less than $50,000 saved in company retirement plans and only 23 percent have more than $100,000.
The loyalty blacks have to their church also has proven costly, said officials at Faith Communities Today, a nonprofit based in Hartford, Conn. A 2013 study revealed that Black churches have collected more than $420 billion in tithes and donations nationwide since 1980, an average of $252 million a week.
“What people fail to see and understand is that, the church pastors aren’t waiting for miracles to fund their lifestyles, they don’t have to pray, day in and day out, to make their ends meet,” said Northwest resident and author, Byron Woulard. They are getting rich off God, not from God,” he said. Woulard, whose books include, the 2011, “Pawn Queen,” noted that the money spent tithing could buy as many as 93,333 homes valued at $150,000; pay for tuition up to $15,000 a year for 933,333 college students, and feed every homeless American for a year. “It’s the best hustle on the planet. If you don’t get it here on earth, you’ll get it when you die and go to heaven,” Woulard said. “And, it just so happens that not one person in the history of this planet has died, went to heaven, and come back to tell everyone that it’s true.”
Stacy M. Brown’s article posted on the Washington Informer.com website concludes with what is described as an inescapable fact: When black folks make money, they are quick to spend it!
According to Dr. Boyce Watkins, a Scholar in Residence in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Syracuse University in New York, also known as “the people’s scholar,” “We don’t use money to invest or produce,” said Watkins, 42.” When we get our tax refund, we go straight to the store.”
The 17th annual report on “The Buying Power of Black America” also includes a dollar-by-dollar breakdown of the Black economy.
With $836 Billion in Total Earning Power, only $321 Million Spent on Books while $7.4 Billion Spent on Hair and Personal Care Products and Services
New ‘Buying Power’ report shows black consumers spend as economy improves
New 16th edition shows expenditures rise to $507 billion
(November 1, 2010) African-American consumers are cautiously increasing their spending in some key product categories, even as they continue to make adjustments in a slowly growing economy. The finding comes from the soon to be issued 16th annual edition of “The Buying Power of Black America” report.
In 2009, black households spent an estimated $507 billion in 27 product and services categories. That’s an increase of 16.6% over the $435 billion spent in 2008. African-Americans’ total earned income for 2009 is estimated at $836 billion.
The report, which is published annually by Target Market News, also contains data that reflect the economic hardships all consumers are facing. There were significant declines in categories — like food and apparel — that have routinely shown growth in black consumers’ spending from year-to-year.
“These latest shifts in spending habits are vital for marketers to understand,” said Ken Smikle, president of Target Market News and editor of the report, “because they represent both opportunities and challenges in the competition for the billions of dollars spent by African-American households. Expenditures between 2007 and 2008 were statistically flat, so black consumers are now making purchases they have long delayed. At the same time, they re-prioritizing their budgets, and spending more on things that add value to their homes and add to the quality of life.”
The median household income for African-Americans dropped by 1.4% in 2009, but because of students going out on their own, and couples that started their lives together, the number of black households grew 4.2%. This increase meant that many household items showed big gains. For example, purchases of appliances rose by 33%, consumer electronics increased 33%, household furnishings climbed 28%, and housewares went up by 37%.
Estimated Expenditures by Black Households – 2009
Apparel Products and Services
Cars and Trucks – New & Used
Entertainment and Leisure
Households Furnishings & Equipment
Housing and Related Charges
Personal and Professional Services
Personal Care Products and Services
Sports and Recreational Equipment
Toys, Games and Pets
Travel, Transportation and Lodging
Source: Target Market News,
“The Buying Power of Black American – 2010”
“The Buying Power of Black America” is one of the nation’s most quoted sources of information on African-American consumer spending. It is used by hundreds of Fortune 1000 corporations, leading advertising agencies, major media companies and research firms.
The report is an analysis of consumer expenditure (CE) data compiled annually by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The CE data is compiled from more than 3,000 black households nationally through dairies and interviews. This information is also used for, among things, computing the Consumer Price Index.
The report provides updated information in five sections:
– Black Income Data
– Purchases in the Top 30 Black Cities
– Expenditure Trends in 26 Product & Services Categories
– The 100-Plus Index of Black vs. White Expenditures
– Demographic Data on the Black Population
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By Gary A. Johnson – Founder & Publisher, Black Men In America.com September 5, 2016 One of the topics that consistently comes up in conversations that I have with friends and colleagues is whether or not black people have prospered or been hurt [...]